Business group, opposition split on need for Cha-cha

Business group, opposition split on need for Cha-cha

Jose Rene Almendras

Jose Rene Almendras FILE PHOTO

Business organizations and opposition groups in the Philippines believe the country badly needs to grow the economy to create more jobs and improve people’s livelihood, but they disagree on whether this could be done through Charter change (Cha-cha).

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) is supporting amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, seeing the merit in altering the decades-old provisions that it believes are hampering economic development.


READ: Cha-cha drive ‘treacherous, divisive and unwise’ – Hontiveros

Jose Rene Almendras, president of the influential business group, said they believe these changes in the Constitution could make a difference in attracting more foreign investors to the Philippines.


“There are many things—ownerships, caps, limits, industry limitations—that we need to open up because the other countries have them,” Almendras told reporters on the sidelines of a MAP meeting in Taguig on Thursday.

FDI down 15.9 percent

Almendras, a member of the Cabinet of the late President Benigno Aquino III, emphasized the need for the Philippines to enhance its competitiveness in relation to other countries.

He said there is a lot of work to be done to improve the ease of doing business in the country. According to data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the net inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI) to the Philippines amounted to $5.88 billion from January to September of last year—a 15.93-percent decline from the same period in 2022.

The amount is also much smaller than other countries in the region had obtained, such as the $ 16.33 billion foreign investment to Indonesia and the $15.91 billion that entered Vietnam during the same period. In his speech during the meeting, Almendras said that MAP will push for vital policy reforms, through executive or legislative action, that would eliminate corruption, improve the ease of doing business, and ensure food security.

“The aspiration is to attract greater and more diverse job-creating investments for more Filipinos to be gainfully employed,” he said.

1Sambayan, KMP

Opposition groups do not see Cha-cha as the step to be taken to improve the country’s economic performance.


Given rising inflation and the employment crisis, the latest attempt to amend the Constitution would not be an effective solution and can even be used as a “smokescreen” to push for “political agendas,” according to opposition coalition 1Sambayan and the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

1Sambayan on Wednesday said that the government should instead focus on other “more serious, more pressing” problems reflected in the recent Pulse Asia Survey, such as controlling inflation, wage increase, job creation and poverty reduction.

KMP also raised the same point, enumerating the daily economic challenges faced by the working class that it said won’t be solved by amending the Constitution.

“Cha-cha is not what the masses need. It’s clear that the devised Cha-cha campaign will not benefit the farmers affected by the price drop of vegetables. The workers suffering from low wages and inflated price of goods will not gain anything from Cha-cha. Cha-cha is not the answer to the daily protests of PUJ (public utility jeepney) drivers that will lose their livelihood because of the colonial modernization and jeepney phaseout,” said KMP chair Danilo Ramos.“Realistically, this is not the best time for Charter change,” 1Sambayan said.

‘Political, not economic’

1Sambayan suspects that the move to revise the Constitution is being pushed “in the guise of proposing economic provisions” but is meant to make political changes, such as “diluting the vote of the Senate and concentrating the power in the House of Representatives.”

It was referring to the provision under the Constitution that states that amendments can be made by Congress acting as a constituent assembly.

A people’s initiative seeking is being vigorously pushed by members of the House of Representatives to make future revisions in the Charter through a “joint” vote by two-thirds of all the members of Congress. If it passes, the more than 300 congressmen can easily overwhelm the 24 senators in any voting.

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“Clearly, the actual provisions being propounded in this people’s initiative are political rather than economic. Worse, this is perpetrated by Congress itself,” 1Sambayan said. “Instead of a people’s initiative, this move is tantamount to a congressional initiative, which is not provided in the Constitution.” KMP also suspects that the amendments can be used to sneak in the 100 percent foreign ownership of lands and the extension of the term of the President.

TAGS: Cha-cha, Economy

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